Young admitted fault in Agbonahlor red card, claims Paul Lambert

The Aston Villa striker was dismissed after a seemingly innocuous challenge between him and the Manchester United winger on Saturday and his manager was vexed by the decision


Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert hinted that his side will launch an appeal after claiming that Gabriel Agbonlahor was wrongfully dismissed against Manchester United.

Agbonlahor saw red just past the hour mark after a seemingly innocuous 50-50 challenge with his former Villa team-mate, Ashley Young, during Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Villa Park. The striker appeared to make minimal contact with Young’s shin but referee Lee Mason was quick to brandish a red card.

According to Lambert, Young admitted that he was at fault during the coming-together and not the Villa man, and the Scot is confident the decision will be revoked.

“If that’s a red card, you may as well just pack up because it won’t be a game of football,” the Scot told reporters.

“I’ve spoken to [Villa goalkeeper] Brad Guzan just [afterwards] and he tells me that Ashley Young has admitted that he fouled Gabby.

“There’s a good chance of [appealing] because, if people review that, especially when a player has admitted that he fouled Gabby, there’s no way. That’s not a red card. It’s a tackle where two lads went in for the ball and, in my own view, it was never a red card.”

The points were shared after Christian Benteke’s opener was cancelled out by Radamel Falcao.

Van Gaal: Results like Aston Villa draw could cost Manchester United the title

The Dutchman says the Red Devils were the better side at Villa Park, and believes the failure to get all three points in this kind of match could prove decisive


Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says he is “very frustrated” and believes his team’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa is the kind of result which can cost a club the Premier League title.

Radamel Falcao’s second-half header cancelled out Christian Benteke’s fine opener, but United could not get a winner despite Gabby Agbonlahor’s red card for a foul on Ashley Young with 25 minutes remaining.

And Van Gaal was clearly disappointed that his side could not emulate rivals Manchester City earlier in the day by finding a way past stubborn opposition.

“When you want to be a part of the title race you have to win these games,” he told reporters.

Asked if this result could cost his side the title, he replied: “Yes, that’s what I mean. I’ve seen Manchester City in the first half against Crystal Palace. They struggle till half-time but at the end it is 3-0 – that’s the difference. We have to win these matches but there is still a long time to go.”

“I am very frustrated and I think the players [are] also because we were the better team and we don’t win, you have to win when you are the better team,” he also told Sky Sports. “We were not aggressive enough in the first half, in the second it was better but I have to say that Aston Villa are very well organised and it’s always difficult to score, but when you allow them to score you know it will be very difficult.

“We did it in the second half better, we were more aggressive, we pressed more in front and that’s why we scored, but you have to score two times and we could not do it. It was very frustrating because it could’ve been seven [wins] in a row.”

Van Gaal also said Villa were perhaps a more difficult proposition after going down to 10 men.

“Yeah because they make the space more narrow, with long balls of course,” he added. “Benteke is very strong and we couldn’t manage that.”

But the Dutchman, who admitted he had not seen enough of Falcao in recent weeks due to his injuries, says he was pleased that the Colombian found the target on his first start since October 5.

“I’m very happy for him because he needs it, and I’m very happy when a striker scores.”

Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United: Falcao on target but Red Devils held by 10 men

The loanee scored his second goal on his second start, but Christian Benteke’s earlier opener saw the resurgent club fail to record a seventh consecutive Premier League win


Manchester United’s winning run came to an end on Saturday as they were held to a 1-1 Premier League draw by 10-man Aston Villa.

Louis van Gaal’s side travelled to Birmingham on the back of six straight wins and boasting an excellent record at Villa, who had lost to Midlands rivals West Brom last time out.

However, United were frustrated by a dogged showing from Paul Lambert’s men, who held on for a point despite playing the final 25 minutes a man down after Gabriel Agbonlahor was handed a straight red card.

Christian Benteke gave Villa the lead in the 18th minute as he curled home only his second goal of the campaign.

United initially laboured in their quest to level matters, but pulled level in the 53rd minute when Radamel Falcao headed in from close range.

Lee Mason’s controversial decision to send off Agbonlahor for a foul on ex-Villa man Ashley Young 12 minutes later looked to have tilted the contest in United’s favour, but the visitors – who introduced the fit-again Angel di Maria off the bench – could not find a winner.

United dominated possession in the opening stages but struggled to find a way through a well-organised Villa side.

Robin van Persie crafted the visitors’ first chance as his 16th-minute volley forced Brad Guzan into a strong near-post save, but United were punished for their lack of threat in front of goal by a piece of brilliance from Benteke.

The Belgium striker controlled a left-wing free-kick from Fabian Delph – in as part of four changes by Lambert – with his chest before teasing Jonny Evans and curling an expertly placed strike into the top-left corner to leave David de Gea, making his 150th appearance for United, with no chance.

Villa’s goal opened things up as United poured forward with greater intent and the visitors almost levelled when Guzan reacted late to parry away Young’s cross-cum-shot.

Darren Fletcher – brought in by Van Gaal along with Falcao – was replaced by Tyler Blackett at the start of the second half, with Michael Carrick moving from defence to midfield.

United would have fallen further behind had De Gea not brilliantly tipped Benteke’s header from a Delph corner over the bar.

Van Persie was then denied by Guzan at the other end, but the American could do nothing to prevent Falcao from restoring parity.

Young whipped in a left-wing delivery and the former Monaco man made no mistake, using the power of the cross to head the ball beyond a helpless Guzan.

United were handed a further boost when Agbonlahor was dismissed for a seemingly innocuous challenge on Young, referee Mason displaying no hesitation in brandishing a red card despite an apparent lack of intent on the part of the Villa forward, who caught the shin of his former team-mate.

Jores Okore was then forced to clear Carrick’s goal-bound header, with Villa clinging seemingly clinging on for a point.

Yet Leandro Bacuna almost snatched all three for the hosts with a fierce long-range drive that flew narrowly over the bar, and the fact that United failed to break down a depleted Villa outfit may give Van Gaal cause for concern over Christmas as United aim to cement a top-four berth.

Van Gaal: Sir Alex wants results, but I want perfection

Six consecutive victories have lifted United into third in the Premier League and back to the fringes of the title race but the Dutchman insists he is not yet satisfied

Louis van Gaal says he has higher standards for Manchester United than Sir Alex Ferguson and is still searching for “the perfect game” from his team.

A run of six consecutive Premier League victories has seen United recover from a disastrous start to the season and an injury crisis to move up to third in the table, just eight points behind leaders Chelsea.

Away wins over Arsenal and Southampton were achieved despite United spending much of the game on the back foot, and Van Gaal insists he is not yet satisfied with his team’s performances.

“I am not only focused on results,” the Dutchman told reporters. “That’s the main importance [but] when I speak with Sir Alex he says: ‘Not any problem, you have won.’ But for me it’s also the performance that’s very important because when you perform you shall win more and that’s what I want to show the fans, and the players want to show that and I think also that the guarantee of winning is much bigger when we perform better.

“For example, the game against Hull City was a good game [winning 3-0, in November] and that I have said. We dominated 90 minutes and I want to see more games like that.

“And now they are too few games that we are dominating 90 minutes and that’s a process.

“So we have to wait and see but of course when you win six times in a row then the confidence is rising. But I am still looking for a game that it’s more closer to the perfect game than we have given until now.”

Carrick: Manchester United targeting Premier League title

Louis van Gaal’s side have won their last six matches and the midfielder has confirmed the squad now believe that the can finish top of the pile come May


Michael Carrick insists that the Manchester United squad have their sights set on winning back the Premier League title this season.

United lifted their 20th top-flight crown at the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at the helm in 2012-13, but finished seventh in David Moyes’ first campaign in charge just a year later.

Moyes was axed as a result of the club’s poor form, with Louis van Gaal appointed as his successor, and, following an inconsistent start, United have strung together a run of six consecutive victories under the Dutchman.

That sequence has seen them climb to third in the table, eight points behind leaders Chelsea, and Carrick insists he and his team-mates are intent on lifting the trophy in May.

“I don’t want to say we are going to win the league, but certainly at this point, it is what we are aiming to do,” he told The Telegraph.

“We are not just looking to be happy for top three or top four.

“We want to be looking, over Christmas and into January, to be up there and then taking it from there. But winning the league has to be the aim.

“At this stage of the season, we are exactly where I think we should be and talking to the lads, we have that mentality that we want, and expect, to be challenging.

“It’s not a case of thinking that third is great because we have improved.We are looking past that and want to be challenging right up at the top.”